New Zealand’s North Island is one of the most geothermal spots on earth. Soaring smoky volcanoes, steamy geysers, and hot springs are just some of the hallmarks of the countries unique landscape. While it’s impossible to list every natural attraction, there’s some notable highlights best explored on New Zealand North Island tours.
1. Hiking the Tongariro Crossing. Hiking the Tongariro Crossing sits pretty high up on most traveler’s New Zealand bucket list, and for good reason. The challenging 20-kilometer day trek is often ranked as one of the best in the world and passes craggy volcanic scenery punctuated by turquoise lakes. It’s as unworldly as it sounds. If you’re visiting in winter, strap on your skis to hurtle down through the national park.
2. Get beached on the Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel Peninsula is one of the most gorgeous places on the North Island. Lush green forests tumble down hills into the turquoise sea below while sandy beaches are made more scenic by achingly beautiful arched, eroded rock formations. Kick back on the shoreline and take it all in.
3. Admire the steamy geysers in Rotorua. Nothing sums up New Zealand’s geothermal power quite as well as the geysers in Rotorua. Hop on one of the New Zealand North Island tours to visit an alien landscape of bubbling hot mud pools and blasts of steam coming from natural vents. Just remember to bring your camera.
4. Swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands. Take a boat trip out to the Bay of Islands to swim with wild dolphins. The magic begins as the boat anchors up in the azure waters of the islands and you catch your first glimpse of these smart mammals as they begin to playfully jump out of the ocean.
5. Get adventurous at Lake Taupo. Located slap-band in the center of the North Island, Lake Taupo offers travelers a staggering number of adventurous activities. You can expect everything from rock climbing to hiking and sailing to skydiving and anything in between.
6. Watch the steaming crater on White Island. Lying 48 kilometers off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island in the Bay of Plenty, the perfectly formed volcanic crater on White Island rises dramatically out of the surrounding blue sea. Though most people hop on cruises to get there, if you’ve got deep pockets, you can fly in by helicopter enjoying fabulous views before you land.
7. See the glowworms in the Waitomo Caves. There is nowhere like the Waitomo Caves on earth. Hop aboard one of the New Zealand North Island tours to go into the network of caves which is teeming with eerie stalactites lit up by millions of glowing worms. It’s one of the country’s top things to do, and when you experience it yourself, you’ll know why.
8. Hike through Te Urewera. While Te Urewera might not be on your radar, this lesser known park is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular. Lying towards the north east of North Island, this vast area is characterized by glistening lakes, tumbling cascades, and lots of forest. And the best thing? If you make the effort to get here, you might very well have the hiking trails all to yourself.
9. Kayak around Waiheke Island. Waiheke Island might only be a 30-minute boat trip from Auckland, but it couldn’t be any different to the bustling metropolis. Secluded little tropical golden beaches, rows of vineyards and rolling forested hills make it one of the most scenic spots in the country. The best way to explore it is on the back of rented sea kayaks from which you can fully appreciate the coastline.
10. See the gannets on Cape Kidnappers. Cape Kidnappers, which interestingly got its name from Captain Cook after a local tribesman tried to kidnap one of his crew there, is home to one of the world’s largest gannet colonies. Here, you can see thousands of these greedy little birds perched on the sandstone cliffs.